An updated, aquatic version of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” this #ownvoices-authored story has a protagonist who possesses more curiosity than courage.
In this swamp-filled, poetic, circular tale, an unnamed child asks readers Dora the Explorer–type direct-address questions while inviting readers aboard a motorboat. Since Granny has said that the gator has skin “like nails” and a temper that’s “hot like sauce,” the protagonist imparts safety advice and passes you a life jacket and a pair of binoculars. Shadowed shapes that prompt many false alarms enable young readers to guess which animals the protagonist sees before light and a binocular view reveal them. When a big shadowy hint suggests that the protagonist is about to find that gator, a hasty retreat commences. Set in the bayou, this book features a black girl with an afro-puff ponytail, contributing to what may be a growing genre of children’s books that depict black and brown children and families enjoying nature. Notably, the companion to whom the protagonist hands binoculars has arms that are equally brown, frequently seen breaking into the frame. With full-page spreads of bold color, especially blues and greens, Preston-Gannon invites young readers to notice and discuss the clearly illustrated flora and fauna.
This story’s inclusive, mildly spooky plot and its visual details will engage kids and encourage rereading for what they might have missed. (Picture book. 3-7)